March 26, 2017

The new Hot Button Top 10 starring NCAA winnowing to Final Four, Heat stretch run, tennis, Fish, Cats, horses; plus Kaepernick vs. Moore as Dolphins backup QB. New poll. Vote now!; also Elton John, Venus Williams, my bracket, Hot Button Daily (Sun) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Eltonthen Eltonnow1) It is SUNDAY, March 26. A most happy 70th birthday yesterday to a lifelong favorite of mine, Elton John, pictured then and now. I have been a huge and continuing fan since the '70s, augmenting my love of his music with an admiration for his many philanthropic works that set the standard for the music industry. The word is grossly overused in entertainment but it fits this man: Superstar. So happy his milestone birthday found him in a great place and the happiest he has ever been. 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kiper's surprise Mock pick for Dolphins, Team USA wins WBC crown, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (70 games), Sweet 16 title odds & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My Sunday column: The curious unemployment of Colin Kaepernick: I explore what could be the NFL blackballing of Colin Kaepernick in my latest Sunday column. Click on Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick? to read. Kaepernick threw 16 TDs vs. only four interceptions, topped a 90 rating and was second among NFL QBs in rushing yards last season. He'd make somebody an exciting backup option for the right price -- Dolphins included. Agree. Find a Kaepernick vs. Matt Moore poll here directly below the new Hot Button Top 10.

Bracket update: Ouch. I now stand tied for 27th among 90 teams in a LeBatard & Friends pool after Saturday's results. I need North Carolina (my national champ) to survive today. I also have Oregon sill alive on my otherwise smoldering bracket.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (MARCH 26): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NCAA ELITE EIGHT: Finally! Field narrows Sunday to Final Four: Gonzaga and Oregon punched Final Four tickets on Saturday. Now Sunday's last of the Elite Eight games will bring us (at last) to the Final Four teams in NCAA men's tourney. Are you still alive in your office pool? Or was that your bracket I saw smoldering in tatters on the side of the road this morning?

2. HEAT: 5th seed? No playoffs? Anything possible as stretch run begins: Ten games left starting in Boston Sunday and then a huge one Tuesday in Detroit could find Heat rising as high as the fifth playoff seed or missing postseason altogether. Who says NBA regular seasons don't matter?

3. TENNIS: Miami Open reaches midpoint on Key Biscayne: Not as much interest on the women's side in a field missing injured Serena Williams, but we'll gladly take a Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer men's final next Sunday (please) as the annual fortnight ends at Crandon Park Tennis Center.

4. MARLINS: WBC stars rejoin team as spring winds down: Team USA's Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich rejoined Marlins from World Baseball Classic for final week of spring training. WBC champions to NL East also-rans. Hope Stanton and Yelich didn't get too used to all that winning.

5. PANTHERS: Cats win big but still need miracle on ice: Florida is down to eight games and still seven points off playoff pace even after last night's big 7-0 home win over Chicago. As a disappointing season ebbs do you remember how a big offseason had the Cats talking Stanley Cup? Yeah they'd probably rather that you'd forgotten.

6. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream hosts Florida Derby in six days: Gunnavera will try to solidify his status as a Kentucky Derby favorite in next Saturday's major prep race, the annual Florida Derby at Gulfstream. Always nice to see horses take back center stage at a horsetrack these days, albeit briefly.  

7. NCAA WOMEN: Sunday, Monday award Final Four tickets: Four games today and Monday will set the women's Final Four. Stanford-Notre Dame and Mississippi State-Baylor go at it today.

8. NFL/DOLPHINS: Looks like free agency came and went quietly: Um, is that all there is? Dolphins didn't make a big splash, and biggest questions that remain nationally involve the possible landing spots for QBs Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler and Jimmy Garoppolo. But the draft is getting close!

9. TIGER WOODS: Eldrick still hoping to be ready for The Masters: Year's first major is April 6-9 at Augusta, and Tiger Woods -- his long-awaited comeback from back ailmenbst forever delayed or aborted -- says he wants in. Do we believe him? Do we still care?

10. CANES BASEBALL: UM tries to avoid sweep today: Once-ranked Miami now is struggling at 10-13 and tries to avoid being swept today at No. 8 North Carolina. The season he dreamed of is a nightmare thus far for Jim Morris.

Missing the HB10 cut: Sorry, UM football. You don't have the courtesy to open your spring practices to the public, you don't get in the HB10 ..... The Lakers unveiled a 1,200-pound dunking statue of Shaquille O'Neal. So it's about life-sized, then ..... OK UCLA finally lost. Can we all stop interviewing LaVar Ball now please? ..... U.S. men's soccer crushed Honduras, 6-0, reminding us that Jurgen Klinsmann really did need to go ..... Ultra Music Festival ends today in Miami, the only event at which drugs not only are allowed, but are required.

POLL: COLIN KAEPERNICK VS. MATT MOORE AS DOLPHINS BACKUP QB?: Relax, people. It's just for fun...

VenuswTHE UNDERAPPRECIATED WONDER OF VENUS WILLIAMS: [Update: Venus won her opening match in the Miami Open, defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-4-,6-3, and plays again today] Original post: As Serena Williams skips this Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne with a knee injury, we take the occasion to give the credit that is due to the overshadowed, underappreciated career of older sister Venus Williams. Serena said recently of Venus: "There’s no way I’d be at 23 [Grand Slam titles] without her. There’s no way I’d be at one without her. There’s no way I’d be anything without her. She’s the only reason the Williams sisters exist." Serena says her drive to be better than her big sister is what drove her to greatness. But imagine all of the additional major title Venus might have won if her greatest rival hadn't been her own sister? Click on An Ode to the 'Other' for my column in tribute to Venus.

THE LIST: TOP 5 GREATEST VENUSES OF ALL-TIME: Our own order:

1. Venus (second planet from the sun)

2. Venus Williams (tennis player)

3. Venus de Milo (ancient Greek statue)

4. Venus Flytrap (carnivorous plant)

5. Venus (surprising humane 2006 Peter O'Toole film about aging)

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SUN 3-26-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. Heat at Boston, 6 p.m.: Miami holding 8th seed with eye on moving up.

2. NCAA Elite Eight, 2 p.m.: Florida-South Carolina, then Kentucky-UNC play for spots in Final Four.

3. Miami Open, 11 a.m.: Rafael Nadal, Venus Williams among headliners on today's card.

4. NCAA women, noon: Two games for first two spots in women's Final Four.

5. Marlins vs. St. Louis, 1 p.m.: Teams that share Jupiter spring home go at it again.

"WHERE TO NOW, ST. PETER?," ELTON JOHN, 1970: Tumbleweed Connection was the first Elton John album that really struck me, with its influences in country and Americana but also rock and even psychedelia. I had no idea then that the music of this man would become a lifelong friend...

Select other recent columns: Method to the Madness?, on the bizarre LaVarBall. Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, previewing the tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on developments in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 23, 2017

Kiper lights Lamp for Dolphins in latest Mock Draft; plus "Let's gooooo States!" Team USA reigns, Yelich honored; also, Miami Open tennis, weird Lavar Ball, Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, Sweet 16 title odds, Hot Button Daily & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, March 23. Thank you again, Cote's Coterie, for carrying me to the Final Four, and congratulations Amber Wilson, for winning the Slice Miami media bracket title! 2) Hurricanes men lose NCAA opener to Michigan State, then Canes women drop home game in second-round upset loss to Quinnipiac. What a hugely disappointing March Madness run (more like a stumble) for UM hoops. 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your Jose Fernandez verdict shows shaky support, R.I.P. Chuck Berry, Cote makes final four, my bracket update & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest columns: Miami Open tennis, weird LaVar Ball: The event is missing major stars due to injuries like Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray as it begins on Key Biscayne, yet hope grows as the folks who run the tournament dig in determined to keep the event at Crandon Park Tennis Center long-term despite legal setbacks. Click on Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten for this week's column. Then click Method to the Madness? for my latest column, exploring the bizarre attention-getting braggadocio of LaVar Ball, father of UCLA star Lonzo Ball.

LampKIPER'S MOCK DRAFT 3.0 OFFERS DOLPHINS SURPRISE: Mel Kiper Jr. rolls out his Mock Draft 3.0 for ESPN today and it has the Dolphins taking Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp 22nd overall. Junior writes: "Laremy Tunsil's expected move to left tackle leaves an opening at guard, and Lamp is the best guard in the draft. He could also move over to right tackle or slide in to center, and his versatility is a plus. Though Lamp (6-4, 309) played in Conference USA, he has the traits to step in and play immediately next season. Miami could also be in play for a linebacker, even with Kiko Alonso locked into a new deal. Florida's Jarrad Davis makes some sense." Lamp (pictured) is plausible for Miami, but I'd not bet on it. Defense still likelier for Fins' top pick. By the way, Kiper has Canes tight end David Njoku going 20th overall to Denver. Oh, and still no Brad Kaaya in first round, which by now should go without saying.

Teamusa"LET'S GOOOOO STATES!" TEAM USA WINS FIRST WBC TITLE!: Update U.S. routs Puerto Rico, 8-0, last night to win first WBC crown. Marlin Christian Yelich named to All-Tournament team. Original post: I'll be riveted to MLB Network tonight at 9 as Team USA takes on Puerto Rico in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium. This is only the fourth WBC, but U.S. has never before won, or even reached the title game. Must be the old magic of curmudgeonly Jim Leyland, who always looks like the should be smoking a cigarette and carrying a glass of Scotch as he makes a mound visit. With apologies to my Puerto Rican friends, I am not neutral on this game. I set aside my Objective Journalist card in favor of my Citizen's Card. I'm an American rooting for my home team. On my count ... 1 - 2 - 3 ... "Let's gooooo States!"

THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (70 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 34-36 after Sunday's home loss to Portland, here's The Luddite's 14th installment, with 65-game rank in parentheses.

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (70 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      2,056

2. Goran Dragic (2)             1,838

3. James Johnson (3)          1,326

4. Tyler Johnson (4)            1,290

5. Dion Waiters (5)              1,077

6. Wayne Ellington (7)          733 

7. Rodney McGruder (6)       722

8. Josh Richardson (8)         622

9. Willie Reed (9)                601

10. Luke Babbitt (10)          452

Others: Justise Winslow 355, Derrick Williams 234, Josh McRoberts 232, Okaro White 157, Udonis Haslem 72.

LATEST SWEET 16 TITLE ODDS: New from Bovada, betting odds on the last 16 men's teams winning the NCAA Tournament entering today's S16 action:  19-4--Kansas; 5-1--North Carolina; 13-2--Arizona and Gonzaga; 9-1--UCLA; 10-1--Kentucky; 12-1--Florida; 16-1--Baylor and Michigan; 18-1--Oregon, West Virginia and Wisconsin; 20-1--Purdue; 40-1--Butler; 50-1--South Carolina; and 75-1--Xavier.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 3-23-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. NCAA Tournament, 7 p.m.: Madness resumes with first four round of Sweet 16 men's games.

2. Toronto at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami, 8th seed in hand, tries (again) to climb to .500.

3. Arizona at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Cats winding down a very disappointing season.

4. Miami Open tennis, 11 a.m.: Early-round play continues with smattering of seeded players.

5. Marlins vs. Cardinals, 1 p.m.: Spring game in Jupiter.

Select recent columns: Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, the latest, previewing this year's tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on developments in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 20, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes/NCAAs, Fernandez saga, Heat down to 8, viva Team USA!, tennis, Cats, cricket; plus Cote says thanks, Chuck Berry, your Jose verdict, Hot Button Daily & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Chuckberry1) It is MONDAY, March 20. R.I.P., Chuck Berry (pictured in his latter years), the influential rock 'n roll guitar icon, gone over the weekend at age 90. Rest in Peace, Johnny B. Goode. 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): We name our March Madness Haiku Challenge champion, Love & Regret/Jose Fernandez saga with poll, UM men fall in NCAAs & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

'Cote's Coterie' lifts us to final four!: A late surge of support Sunday carried us past Mike Ryan and into the final four of Slice Miami's annual sports media poll. I'm now up against Amber Wilson in the semifinals. Uh oh. Click on Slice Miami Final Four to vote.

My bracket update: Still solid: As the NCAA Tournament pauses and exhales I stand tied for ninth place among some 90 entries in a LeBatard & Friends pool. I have 12 teams still alive in the Sweet 16. Is that pretty good? Or average? Took a hit though with Duke falling. I'd had the Devils reaching the (but not winning) the championship game. By the way, to this point, favorites (based on seeding) are 38-10, a 79.2 percent win rate. Once again, the Cinderella aspect of March Madness appears largely oversold.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES / NCAA TOURNAMENT: Miami makes quick exit from March Madness: An unexpectedly good season ended so badly for Canes men in a very disappointing 78-58 opening loss to Michigan State Friday night in Tulsa. How is your bracket looking as we arrived Sunday at the Sweet 16? Mine is a sieve leaking a torrent of my own tears. (It isn't, really. But it's funnier to say that...)

2. JOSE FERNANDEZ: State says Jose at wheel, caused crash: The story that couldn't possibly get any worse keeps getting worse. The latest: A report confirming Fernandez was at the wheel and to blame for fatal boat crash. Isn't a tragedy worst when you know it should never have happened? (Click on A Complicated Legacy for my column on latest development in saga).

3. HEAT: Can we please start a “We're No. 8!” chant?: Heat fell from 7th to 8th seed with Sunday's home loss to portland -- only the team's sixth loss in past 29 games. Meantime Dwyane Wade is out for the rest of season in Chicago, another reminder Heat seems more and more right to have let Wade go.

4. WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Stanton homers as Team USA wins, makes final four: Americans beat Dominican Republic late Saturday in San Diego, 6-3, led by Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's go-ahead home run. Winner-take-all game eliminated D.R. and lifted U.S. to WBC championship round at Dodger Stadium and a semifinal vs. Japan. Team USA has never won this event. "Can you believe it?" said a clearly annoyed Abner Doubleday. Let's gooooo States!

5. TENNIS: Miami Open begins on Key Biscayne: Andy Murray and especially Serena Williams are among major withdrawals with injuries for the two-week event starting Monday. I feel like Serena is so good she could at least reach the semifinals playing on crutches. Meantime, IMG, which owns the event, assures it will remain on Key Biscayne long-term. That means the Miami Open has won the Miami Open.

6. UM WOMEN: Canes win NCAA opener, carry banner for UM hoops: Miami survived upset-minded Florida Gulf Coast, 62-60, at home Saturday in its NCAA Tournament opener and will now face Quinnipiac Monday night 9, home again. What the Hurricanes men failed to do, the women did: Avoid a one-and-done.

7. PANTHERS: Don't write Cats off yet. Almost. But not yet: Florida is six points off NHL playoff pace with only 11 games left after getting spanked 4-0 Sunday in Pittsburgh. Somewhere between simply needing a lot of luck and needing a miracle rest the Panthers' chances.   

8. BOXING: Mayweather-McGregor penciled in for September: The hype has begun with Conor McGregor saying he's going to "shock the world" and win by boxing against heavily favored Floyd Mayweather in their mixed boxing/UFC bout rumored for September. Am I alone in wishing there were a way they both could lose?

9. NFL FREE AGENCY: Report: Teams awary of Kaepernick because of Trump: An AFC GM said teams are hesitant to sign available QB Colin Kaepernick for fear of a an onslaught of negative Tweets from Donald Trump. And in other free agency news, the Dolphins have done pretty good so far but not quite as good as the Patriots. Or did that go without saying?  

10. CRICKET: India beats Australia, I think: Actual lead of news story I read Sunday morning: "RANCHI, India (AP) -- A 199-run seventh-wicket partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha gave India a 152-run lead after they declared their first innings at 603-9 against Australia on Sunday." Anyone who has any idea what any of that means, would you please keep it to yourself?

Missing the HB10 cut: Congrats to our blog's March Madness Haiku Challenge champion, Ken Whiteley of Chattanooga, Tennessee ..... Canes baseball fell to 8-13 Saturday. Sorry to place you below cricket, Jim Morris, but until you start winning, no Top 10 for you! ..... NASCAR runs today in Phoenix. It will be loud. I won't watch. 

Poll result: Shaky support for Marlins honoring Fernandez with uniform patch: We asked if, in light of this week's report putting Jose Fernandez behind the wheel of the fatal boat crash that killed him and two others, it still is appropriate that the Marlins this season to wear a uniform patch honoring Jose. The results: 39.2 percent "Yes. Because of all he meant to Miami and to the Marlins." "No. Not when he caused the tragedy that took two other lives"; and 28.0% "Not sure. I can see both sides." That's a plurality who still favor the patch, but roughly another 60% who are against it or have misgivings. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 3-20-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. Quinnipiac at Hurricanes, 9:10 p.m.: UM women host 2nd-round game for spot in Sweep 16.

2. Netherlands vs. Puerto Rico, 9 p.m.: First World Baseball Classic semifinal game from L.A.

3. Miami Open tennis, 10 p.m.: Main draw starts Tuesday, but qualifying matches happening today.

4. Marlins vs. Braves, 1:05 p.m.: Spring game in Lake Buena Vista.

Select recent columns: A Complicated Legacy, the latest, on developments in the Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on the NCAA Tournament. D.R. and Miami Win the Night, from the World Baseball Classic. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing WBC at Marlins Park. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Wonder of Coach L.  The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

February 20, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring ridiculous ASG, Heat plans, Marlins weirdness, sizzling' Cats, Hurricanes, Dolphins; plus is he whale enough? (my Whiteside column), your verdict on Marlins expectations & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Prezday1) It is MONDAY, February 20. It is the federal holiday Presidents Day, which of course can mean only one thing. That's right. "Not My Presidents Day" anti-Trump protests across America. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins open spring training with expectations poll, Kate Upton revealed, ode to the Monopoly thimble & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Heat, Whiteside: My new Sunday column: We're coming into Pat Riley Season: Trading deadline, then draft, then free agency. So, the question hovering over the Miami Heat at the all-star break: Is Hassan Whiteside "whale" enough for Riley? Good enough to be the centerpiece around which Riley can build another champion? Click on Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? to read in full.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 19): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: Ridiculous All-Star Games breaks scoring records: The West beat the East 192-182 in NBA's 66th All-Star Game on Sunday night (sans any Heat participants, alas) in New Orleans. That was a record for total points, as was MVP Anthony Davis' ASG-record 52 points. But league's biggest news Sunday was Pelicans acquiring DeMarcus Cousins to pair with Davis in frontcourt. Look out, Warriors?

2. HEAT: And what does Miami have in store post-break?: Heat resume play this coming Friday only two games off playoff pace after winning 14 of last 16 games before the All-Star break. But first, up next: What you got planned for that Feb. 23 (Thursday) trade deadline, Mr. Riley? Anything? Or will you stand Pat?

3. MARLINS: Full spring work underway as sale talk turns weird: Full-squad spring training got underway Friday up in Jupiter as talks to sell the club took a weird turn. I mean, what were the odds that Jeffrey Loria maybe becoming U.S. Ambassador to France might somehow cause the frontrunning buyer to back out?

4. PANTHERS: Sizzling Cats hovering around playoff pace: Florida on Saturday won its fourth straight and seventh of past eight to get on playoff pace but is one point off entering tonight's game in St. Louis. Meanwhile Jaromir Jagr scored his 1,900th career NHL point the day he turned 45. Who else gives middle age a good name like this dude?

5. HURRICANES: Big games in play for UM men, women as regular seasons ebb: Miami's 16th-ranked women's fell at No. 13 Duke on Sunday, now the Canes men play at No. 14 Virginia tonight as last few games of regular season help shape NCAA seeding for both. CBS featured Jim Larranaga Sunday in its "Men Of March" series.

6. UM BASEBALL: Diamond Canes fail to nail down sweep in season-opening series: Jim Morris' guys got clobbered on Sunday but still took two of three from Rutgers in their season-opening home series at the Light. Reaching Omaha the imperative as usual in Morris' next-to-last season.

7. DOLPHINS: Team extends Wake's contract: Cam Wake is 35, but last season proved he ain't done yet, and the Dolphins rewarded him on Saturday with a two-year, $19 million contract extension. Everybody's happy except opposing quarterbacks.

8. NASCAR: Elliott, Dale Jr. on Daytona front row: NASCAR season -- funneling to the title run in Homestead in November -- begins this coming Sunday with the Daytona 500, and qualifying runs yesterday found Chase Elliott winning the pole position and Dale Earnhardt Jr. joining him on the front row.

9. TENNIS: Delray Beach Open tennis gets going: Running through next Sunday, it's a second-tier pro event on the men's ATP tour. Low on starpower, but if watching Jack Sock play is your thing, then go for it.

10. BOATING: Miami International Boat Show ends today: Four-day event's 76th edition has drawn thousands to Miami Marine Stadium. But you know that it's like they say: You are never happier than the day you buy a boat … other than the day you finally unload that money-eating monster you hardly used.

Missing the HB10 cut: Unlike his predecessors, President Donald Trump declined to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket. Like championship teams eager to visit the White House, it seems like another presidential tradition is dying ..... Nine ex-Hurricanes led by Brad Kaaya have been invited to the March 2-5 pre-draft NFL Scouting Combine. Let the meat market begin! ..... UConn women's team won its 100th straight game (streak is now 101), and it's sort of embarrassing. C'mon, women's basketball. A little parity, please? ..... Urgent reminder: the Sailing World Cup is now less than 100 days away ..... Major League Soccer season is almost upon us as David Beckham marks what feels like the 20th anniversary of his protracted, stalling efforts to see a team in Miami.

Poll result: Mild optimism for Marlins to contend, but not to make playoffs: We asked what you realistically expect of the Miami Marlins this season, and a plurality of 37.6 percent voted "mediocre team never really in the hunt. But another 36.1% voted "contending team that just misses playoffs," while 17.3% voted "the playoffs, finally!" The other 9.0% voted for "post-Jose, a bad season." Overall, that's 53.4% who see a contending team vs. 46.6% who do not.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 2-20-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Panthers at St. Louis, 8 p.m.: Hot Cats, now one point off playoff pace, seek fifth straight win.

2. Hurricanes at Virginia, 7 p.m.: UM men face ranked foes in three of last four games including No. 14 Cavaliers.

3. Delray Beach Open, 11 a.m.: Second-tier men's ATP event continues.

4. Boat show, 10 a.m.: Miami International Boat Show wraps up at Miami Marine Stadium.

Select recent columns: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, my new one, surveying Heat at the all-star break. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from the start of Marlins spring training. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 30, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Starring scorchin' Heat, Pegasus, Aussie finals, UM hoops, marathon, Super Bowl Week; plus Falcons vs. Patriots polls (vote now!) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 30. A new Miami Herald Facebook page debuted last week. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century (and it includes a lot of vintage stuff from the late great Edwin Pope) makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Breaking down Hurricanes 2017 football schedule, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, latest 'Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, my latest, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions held here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami wins 7th straight while D-Wade, LeBron complain about their teams: Miami will bring a season-best seven-game win streak into tonight's home game vs. Brooklyn while prominent ex-Heaters  Dwyane Wade and LeBron James complain publicly about their teams. The bad news? Even with seven wins in a row the Heat is now 18-30.

2. HORSE RACING: Arrogate dominant in first Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream: Horse racing is dying? Not Saturday it wasn't! The inaugural Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park was richest thoroughbred event ever in a 12-horse field running for a $12 million purse -- a race that Arrogate dominated in a ballyhooed showdown vs. rival California Chrome.

3. TENNIS: Serena, Federer win Australian Open finales: Sisters Serena and Venus Williams met for the 28th time and ninth in a major final on Saturday, with Serena earning a modern-record 23rd major title. Top that, guys? OK, how about Roger Federer, 35, beating Rafael Nadal as the oldest man in a Grand Slam final since 1974.

4. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men stun No.9 North Carolina: UM may be headed into the Top 25 at 14-6 after Saturday beating ninth-ranked North Carolina here, 77-62. Was it a fluke or are Canes really good? May have that answer Wednesday as UM hosts No. 6 Florida State. 

5. NFL: It's Super Bowl Week as countdown to Falcons-Patriots begins: We are now six days until New England vs. Atlanta on Super Bowl Sunday. But first let's start with the real big game and undertake a detailed analytical breakdown of yesterday's Pro Bowl in Orlando. Just kiddin'!

6. RUNNING: Miami Marathon celebrates 15th year: Some 24,000 ran in weekend events culminating with Sunday's annual Miami Marathon. I'd give you the winners' names but neither one of us has heard of them so what' the point? I intended to run the marathon, but decided to sleep in and then eat a pound of bacon instead.

7. PANTHERS: Cats end four-game losing streak: Florida's 2-1 OT win over Tampa Bay ended a four-game slide and moved Florida within three points of NHL playoff pace through 50 games.  Disappointing season so far, but maybe it won't stay that way?

8. BRENT MUSBURGER: Sports broadcasting icon retiring: Musburger will call his final game for ESPN -- LSU-Oklahoma basketball -- on Tuesday before retiring at age 77 after nearly 50 years in broadcasting. As another sports-TV great fades to black.

9. SOCCER: U.S. men start new era with friendly tie: U.S. hosted Serbia in a Sunday friendly in San Diego that ended a 0-0 draw in marking the debut of new coach Bruce Arena. The word for tying Serbia? Meh.

10. NHL: It's All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles: Do you care? Yeah, me neither. Although it probably was still better than the Pro Bowl.

Missing the HB10 cut: Four Hurricanes played in Saturday's Senior Bowl and two Dolphins are in today's Pro Bowl, and I just cannot decide which game interests me least ..... There is talk of a Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight. Christ! Do it or shut up about it! ..... In WWE, Sunday's Royal Rumble begins the annual road to WrestleMania. I can't wait to find out who they've decided is going to win! ..... The Winter X Games are underway in Aspen, or, as I like to call it, Slackers on Snowboards ..... ESPN's latest 30 For 30 documentary is titled, "This Was the XFL," certifying once and for all that ESPN has apparently run out of good idea.

Sb51FALCONS-PATRIOTS SUPER BOWL: WHO YOU WANT TO WIN, AND WHO WILL WIN: We see things through different prisms, right? I am surrounded by Dolfans who tend to hate Tom Brady and call the nemesis New England Patriots cheaters, so I am inclined to think that, outside of Greater Boston and suburbs, all of America is rooting for the Atlanta Falcons to win next week's Super Bowl. Or, as much, rooting against Darth Belichick and the Pats. But is that right? I have two polls here. One asks who you want to win the Super Bowl. Vote with your heart. The other asks who you predict will win SB 51. Vote with your head, as if you to bet on one team, straight-up.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: Show us the way, Edwin Pope, Falcons-Patriots SB, Women's March, Juan Pablo Montoya & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 23. There is a new Miami Herald Facebook page, debuting today. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Remembering Edwin Pope, NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside battered in all-star voting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl!: Click on Championship Game Gems for yesterday's Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots NFC and AFC title-game picks, and on A Dramatic Final Four for my preview column.

Montoya wins historic Miami Race Of Champions: Historic? The 28th annual ROC had never before been held in the U.S. before Saturday's race in Miami, on a racetrack built inside Marlins Park. And Miami driver Juan Pablo Montoya won. Crazy, one-of-a kind day. Click on Home Run For Montoya, Miami for my column from the race.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. EDWIN POPE: Herald sports icon dies at 88: If you are from South Florida, are aware life existed before ESPN SportsCenter or have ever held a newspaper in your hands, then you probably said or thought last week, “I grew up reading Edwin Pope.” Thank you, kind sir, friend, colleague and mentor. R.I.P. 

2. NFL: Championship Sunday gives us a Falcons-Pats Super Bowl: Atlanta walloped Green Bay and New England dispatched Pittsburgh on Sunday for the NFC and AFC titles to reach Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5 in Houston. The blowout games were decided by 23- and 19-point margins. The challenge? For the Super Bowl to be better. You know, an actual good game?

3. WOMEN'S MARCH: Women lead world's biggest protest march. Ever: Estimates are more than 4 million women worldwide including more than 500,000 in Washington, D.C. marched Saturday to protest Donald Trump and stand up for the freedoms and rights. Hmm. Impressive. But can't help but wonder: If that same passion and numbers had participated in the election, would there have been a need to march?

4. MOTORSPORTS: Montoya wins Race of Champions at Marlins Park: Most different, unique sporting event in Miami history? You could do worse than nominating NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One stars racing against each other inside a baseball stadium this weekend in the ROC series' first U.S. appearance. Miami won twice as hometown driver Juan Pablo Montoya won Saturday's main event.

5. HEAT: Three straight wins in a lost season as trade deadline looms: Good news? Miami has its first three-game win streak of season. Bad news? Everything else. Record is still only 14-30 and streak is unlikely to reach four as Heat host Golden State tonight. Be honest. The most compelling things left in this lost season are the two dates for the trade deadline and draft lottery.

6. MARLINS: Fish acquire quality starting pitcher: The latest aftershock of the Jose Fernandez tragedy: Miami dealt three prospects to Cincinnati for righty starter Dan Straily, who was 14-8 in 31 starts for Reds last year.

7. BASEBALL: Two ex-Marlins elected to Hall of Fame: Pudge Rodriguez, of course, had a starring role in helping Marlins win the 2003 World Series. But count yourself a real Fish fan if you also recall that, the year before, Tim Raines ended his 23-year career as a reserve here.

8. TENNIS: Both No. 1 seeds out as Australian Open enters final week: No. 1 seeds Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber both were ousted the same day, the first time in the modern era the Australian Open has lost both No. 1s before the quarterfinals. An even bigger shock: Why wasn't Serena Williams No. 1?

9. PANTHERS: Three straight losses, but Florida still in playoff hunt: As NHL all-star break looms, Cats have cooled off with three straight losses but lurk only two points off playoff in Eastern Conference. Still, when you were talking Stanley Cup and are scrambling for an eighth seed -- that's a disappointing season.

10. UM BASKETBALL: Tough stretch for Canes men, women: Miami's No. 14-ranked women have lost three of past six. The men have dropped four of past five  after Saturday's loss at Duke. Better snap out of it fast, Team Larranaga. No. 9 North Carolina visits in five days.

Missing the HB10 cut: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich devoted seven minutes of a news conference Saturday to a pro-women's march, anti-Donald Trump soliloquy, pretty brave for a man who lives and works in Texas. It's enough to make me root for a Spurs championship just to see if he gets a White House invite, or goes ..... Former Marlins ace Josh Johnson retired at 32 from elbow issues, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago ..... Prior to Bellator 170, Chael Sonnen talked trash. Tito Ortiz made his statement in the fight ..... A 25-year-old dunce from Boston was arrested for pulling a fire alarm in the Steelers hotel at 3 a.m. Put him in a room alone with James Harrison for 20 minutes ..... Saw the headline, 'Beagle scores in OT as Capitals beat Stars,' and thought, "Wow, what a great story!" But it turned out to be a guy named Jay Beagle ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Florida Panthers owner and Trump nominee for Secretary of the Army Vinnie Viola once was accused of punching a man in the face at a horse auction."

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

October 11, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.2%; plus Dolphins lose 30-17, now 1-4. My game column; also, Canes dismiss WR, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), quantifying Fins ground-game woes & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 10. Hurricanes today dismissed freshman WR Sam Bruce from the team for multiple rules violations. 2) Click on Week 5 Gems for all of yesterday's (and tonight's) NFL predix. 3) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami loses heartbreaker to FSU with CSM poll, Collball Week 6, your World Series verdict with related List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Clearly, Donald Trump won last night's town-hall debate if the criteria were impoliteness, rudeness, insults, disrespect and interrupting." --Greg Cote

Our Dolphins-Titans game column: Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance.

Our Canes-Noles game column: Close to Back, But Not Back. Also, see results of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this one. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: 3.2%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a 3.2 percent overall approval rating -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-17 loss vs. the visiting Tennessee Titans putting DsmMiami's season record at 1-4. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

Next poll: Oct. 16 (following game vs. Pittsburgh)

G5: TENNESSEE 30, DOLPHINS 17: TERRIBLE SHOWING BY AWFUL FINS: Postgame thoughts:  Awfulness all over the field for Miami, the final score flattering the home team's effort, or lack of. The offense was mostly terrible. The defense was worse. Jakeem Grant, for his punt-return TD, and the punter, were the team's MVPs. The Fins gave up three TD passes by Marcus TenmiaMariota. The run defense was some of the worst I have ever seen. The offensive line could not protect Tannehill, who also held onto the ball too long. Terrible day by Dolphins, who now are 1-4 and should be 0-5. Click HERE for my column from the stadium on today's loss. ..... 4Q: TEN up 30-17 (blocked extra point) after Mariota 4-yard TD toss to ex-Dolphin Rishard Matthews. Fins headed to embarrassing home loss, barring a comeback that doesn't seem likely ..... 3Q: Tannehill 50-yard pass to Parker gives Miami first down at TEN 11, but Fins settle for 24-yard FG to move within 24-17 ... Miami turnover turned into three points and a 24-14 TEN lead on 40-yard FG ... Tannehill intercepted. Not a great throw, but Devante Parker needs to show a better fight for that ball ..... Halftime thoughts: Sad, sad. Dolphins playing even worse than score suggests. With one TD on a punt return and the other set up by a screen pass that turned into a 58-yard gain, Miami has had very little offense. And the defense has been horrid. Miami has allowed 166 yards rushing and a 7.2 average, and allowed a 121.7 passer rating and two TDs by Mariota. Fins in some ways lucky to be within one score. Scattered booing escorts Fins from field ..... 2Q: Titans up 21-14 on 20-yard TD pass to Delanie Walker, 47 seconds before halftime. ... MIA evens it 14-14 on Jay Ajayi 4-yard scoring run. Credit though to Damien Williams, who turned a screen pass into a 58-yard gain ... TEN back up 14-7 on 5-yard scoring catch by Old Cane Andre Johnson, who beat Byron Maxwell in end zone ... Rookie Jakeem Grant returns punt an electrifying 74 yards along right sideline to tie game, 7-7. Weaved thiourgh four missed tackles. What a play! Highlight reel/SportsCenter stuff. Dolphins needed the wakeup call ..... 1Q: Marcus Mariota 5-yard TD run has Titans up 7-0 with 23 seconds left in quarter, the big play a 29-yard strike to Delanie Walker. I told y'all (see below) that they'd better watch out for Walker! ... Fins open with punt, too. Tannehill already sacked, under duress ... Titans begin game with ball but punt ..... Pregame: Very sparse crowd 30 minutes from kickoff. What a contrast from last night's electric, sold-out UM-FSU crowd ... Fins announce O-linemen Branden Albert and Laremy Tunsil both will be out injured, two of seven starters missing today's game. Tunsil hurt his ankle in pregame warmups. No, he did not trip over a bong ..... Original post: In an ideal universe, a home game against the Tennessee Titans would be a check-marked Dolphins victory, one you don't doubt, just like a home game against the Cleveland Browns would be. But in the Dolphins universe we have come to live in, every game is losable, no opponent may be taken lightly, and that's why Sunday afternoon at The Rock figures as pretty even between this pair of slogging 1-3 teams. That Miami is favored by a nominal 3 1/2 points verifies as much. As South Florida prepared for Hurricane Matthew this week the Dolphins prepared to open a four-game homestand it must use to save a flagging season. Fins need to come out of this at least 4-4 at midseason to give themselves a fighting playoff chance -- and today had better be a victory you can count on. Dolphins have not put a very good "product on the field," in coach Adam Gase's words this week, and, frankly, should be 0-4 but for the stunning charity of the Browns' inept field goal kicker. And Tennessee isn't terrible, by the way. Their three losses are to teams that currently are a combined 10-2. Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota both have five interceptions, so it's pretty likely whichever mistake-prone QB plays the cleanest game may walk off a winner. Mariota has been solid away in his young career, with 12 TDs and a 98.5 rating in eight career road starts. Miami must also beware Delanie Walker. Tight ends give this D problems, and Walker is a good one. Further, Titans run the ball solidly, and stopping the run has not been a Dolphins strength despite a defensive line that, on paper, seems suited to the task. Miami has had extra time to prepare after playing last Thursday night, only increasing the onus today on Gase to show fans a sharper "product on the field." Word to Gase: Check out The List at end of this blogpost. Then commit to the damned run! My pick: Dolphins, 24-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM falls to nemesis Florida State on block extra point: No. 10 Miami hosted No. 23 FSU Saturday night hoping to end a six-game series losing streak, but fell 20-19 when a tying extra-point kick was blocked in the closing minutes. The now 4-1 Canes wanted to move a step closer to being "back," but took a step back instead.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins lose badly to open critical four-game homestand: Miami is now 1-4 after Sunday's 30-17 loss to Tennessee, the first of four straight at home that will give life to this flagging season or effectively see it die. Bad start. Score flattered the Fins, who were equally bad on offense and defense. Last word to Adam Gase: "We can't get out of our own way right now."

3. PANTHERS: Huberdeau injury rocks Cats 3 days from opener: Fake games are done, now NHL regular season opens Thursday night as Florida hosts New Jersey. The Panthers, fortified by an offseason of signing young, core players to extended contracts, are hopeful but now have lost LW Jonathan Huberdeau to a severe ankle/Achilles injury after earlier losing C Nick Bjugstad (broken hand) for first month of season. Rocky start for those high hopes.

4. BASEBALL: Miami still mourns, but sport moves on with postseason: Marlins fans still reel from the recent tragic death of Jose Fernandez, but for baseball the playoffs are in full swing with the Toronto Blue Jays the first to advance from the four divisional round series. The big story nationally: Cubs up 2 games to none, their fans aching to party like it's 1908 but fearing disappointment yet again.

5. HEAT: Post-Wade/post-Bosh era gradually underway: New-era Heat host Brooklyn Tuesday in third of eight preseason games as the Oct. 26 start of NBA regular season drew nearer. The Big 3 era came together so quickly; alas, with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh now both gone, too, it has seemed to disintegrate nearly as fast.

6. HURRICANE MATTHEW: Weather wreaks havoc in sports: Matthew pretty much left Miami-Dade and Broward alone (thanks, Matt), but caused havoc elsewhere in Florida sports, including cancellation of Saturday's highly anticipated LSU-Florida game in Gainesville, and the postponement, to Sunday, of FAU's home game vs. Charlotte.

7. TOM BRADY: Star's return from suspension tops NFL headlines: Angry and motivated by what he considered to be an unjustified four-game Deflategate suspension, Patriots QB Tom Brady returned to action Sunday in Cleveland with 406 yards and three TDs in a win. As if the winless Browns didn't have enough problems?

8.TIGER WOODS: Finally, after more than a year, he's baa-aack!: Tiger Woods committed to play in the PGA Tour's 2016-17 season opener, the Safeway Open in Napa, Calif., beginning this Thursday. After battling back issues and other ailments, it will be Woods' first official Tour round in more than a year -- 417 days to be exact, but who's counting.

9. MARIA SHARAPOVA: Suspension reduced, star will return in spring: An appeals court reduced Sharapova's two-year doping suspension to 15 months, making her eligible to return to WTA Tour in April. That's good news for women's tennis. But is the Russian blond, at 29, still good enough to win her first major since 2014?

10. WNBA: Minnesota, Los Angeles seek 20th league crown: WNBA's 20th best-of-five championship Finals begins Sunday with Minnesota Lynx hosting -- and losing to -- the Los Angeles Sparks. Defending champ Lynx have won three of past titles, while Sparks seek first since 2002. Thank you, Wikipedia!

Missing the HB10 cut: Famed broadcaster Joe Buck has revealed he once was addicted to hair plugs. "What's wrong with that!?" said a spokesman for the American Association of Hair-Plug Manufacturers ..... Barry Bonds, fired as Marlins hitting coach after one season, thanked the club for what he called "one of the most rewarding experiences of my baseball career." Which I think officially lowers the bar on rewarding experiences ..... Dwyane Wade said it is "not possible" for his pal LeBron James to surpass Michael Jordan's legacy, only to tie it. Which I guess almost passes as controversy, if you're that desperate ..... Blue Jays fan Ken Pagan, 41, was cited for throwing a beer at Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim during a playoff game. The official charge? Felonious waste of a perfectly good beer ..... Answer: NASCAR is down to its 12 finalists for the Sprint Cup championship. Question: Who are the only 12 people in America eager to visit Homestead, Fla? ..... Headline: 'Bisping denies Henderson to retain UFC title.' Note to self: Google who the hell "Bisping" is ..... A poll by Public Policy Polling found 62 percent of those surveyed thought the No. 2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes could beat the winless Cleveland Browns. An unrelated poll found that 62 percent of people are idiots ..... Miami Hurricanes men's basketball season opens in a month, on Nov. 11. Canes lost a ton and aren' supposed to be very good. Season starts in a month, anyway.

THE LIST: LOWEST DOLPHINS RUSHING OUTPUTS: Could this be the lowest-output Dolphins ground game in franchise history? It is on pace to be. Miami is averaging 72.4 yards rushing per game (362 yards in five games, through Sunday) fives games into this season. How that compares with the five lowest per-game rushing yardage averages in the Dolphins' first 50 seasons:

Avg.        Season        Leading rusher

72.40      2016           Jay Ajayi, 117 (through five games)

75.31      1988           Lorenzo Hampton, 414

83.13      1989           Sammie Smith, 659

83.69      2004           Sammy Morris, 523

83.94      1997           Karim Abdul-Jabbar, 892

84.50      1991           Mark Higgs, 905

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 05, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.2%; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes' 70-3 rout, ready-or-else Dolphins, Collball Week 1, reeling Marlins & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Fripix 41) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5. Happy Labor Day, my fellow American wokers! 2) Countdown: 4 days 'til the Upset Bird! NFL Friday Page predictions return Sept. 9. 2) UM Sports Hall of Fame reminds us that this past weekend in 1994 the Canes beat Georgia Southern 56-0 to win a record-setting 58th consecutive home game. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins unveil Hard Rock Stadium, FIU opens with loss, Footballapalooza, Marlins fade, your Kaepernick verdict, 'LeBrone' & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Updated Dolphins best/worst odds: Bovada has new odds out on best and worst NFL records. "Best" picks are Packers at 5-1, Seahawks 13-2 and Patriots 15-2, with Dolphins tied for 21st at 75-1. "Worst" faves are are Browns at 4-1, 49ers 5-1 and TItans 9-1, with Miami tied for 12th at 20-1.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Awesome Vs. Awful, our latest, on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M. Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

1aa1csmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 97.2%: Results are certified in the season-opening Canesfan Satisfaction Meter, and they show 97.2 percent overall satisfaction (combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the wake of Saturday night's 70-3 victory over Florida A&M. This begins the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Analyzing the G1 vote: Well, 97.2 percent is astounding -- about the optimum you'll see in any blog vote, any topic, anytime, anywhere. Because there are always straggling naysayers. I could ask in a poll, "Would like more money?" and the vote wouldn't be higher than this. Canes fans are ebullient right now, and should be.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

Next poll: Sept. 10 following game vs. Florida Atlantic

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2015--20.1% overall satisfaction (following 8-5 season); 2014--2.7% (6-7); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10: 

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Canes ace start of Richt Era with rout of Florida A&M: Call it a soft opening of the Mark Richt Era at UM. Florida A&M? The marching band is great. The football team, not so much. FAMU is Division 1-AA and went 1-10 last year, so if the Canes didn't win this game handily, then Richt just enjoyed the shortest honeymoon in the history of sports. No worries. I don't care how bad the opponent is. You win 70-3, that's crazy-impressive.

2. DOLPHINS: 6 Days 'til season opener at Seattle. Uh oh: Miami's refurbished, renamed stadium looks great. The team in a 2-2 preseason looked OK. The roster pared to a final 53 on Saturday with no surprises. But none of that matters now. All that does is "at Seattle" this coming Sunday to open the NFL regular season. The preseason didn't tell us much about the Fins, but we're about to find out fast.

3. MARLINS: Playoff hopes trying to survive awfully timed swoon: A 10-18 August record left Miami scrambling to hang in the NL wild-card chase, with team now 4 games off pace after eight losses in past nine games including yesterday's demoralizing walkoff defeat. Maybe a six-game homestand starting today/Monday will help, but there's little margin of error left. Fish need to start being as good in September as they were bad last month.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: 'Noles, other top-ranked team gets immediate test: The four top-ranked teams that began season on inside rail for College Football Playoff -- Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Florida State -- could hardly coast out the gate against tough opponents. Nick Saban's Tide rolled big over USC, but the Sooners lost to Houston and Tigers barely got by Auburn. Noles close Week 1 tonight vs. No. 11 Ole Miss. Ready? Better be.

5. HEAT: Bosh mystery continues as camp draws near: Chris Bosh said on social media, "Yes, I'm hooping." More accurately, after two seasons disrupted by blood-clot issues, he's still hoping to be hooping. Club remains noncommittal on his future even as Sept. 27 start of training bears down fast. C'mon, Heat. Tick tock. You owe fans, and especially Bosh, a clear answer and soon.

6. TENNIS: U.S. Open begins final week: Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams (who surpassed Martina Navratilova's women's modern-era record for most Grand Slam matches won) lead the march into the quarterfinals round that started Sunday. This is first U.S. Open since they put a roof on the place, so fans of rain delays are totally screwed now.

7. FIU: Panthers lose to Indiana to open season: FIU led its Big Ten foe 13-12 entering the fourth quarters before collapsing like a Ponzi scheme late at home. NCAA has denied school's subsequent petition to shorten games to three quarters.

8. COLIN KAEPERNICK: QB's controversial protest still making news: Now local police are threatening to refuse to work 49ers home games unless the team disciplines its quarterback for his refusal to stand for the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. I guess that "To Protect and Serve" motto has become, "To Protect and Serve Those We Like."

9. NASCAR: Dale Jr. to miss rest of season: Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss remainder of Sprint Cup season due to concussion issues, with just one race left now until the cut to the round of 16 drivers in the Chase for the Cup ending in Homestead. So at least Junior has a better excuse than usual this year for not winning the championship.

10. PAT RILEY: Heat boss says Shaq topped LeBron and Big 3: "Shaq's acquisition was bigger than any acquisition that we ever made, including the Big Three." Hmm. Careful, Pat. Once you're in your 70s and you start talking like that, people may begin to wonder if the mind is going.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins and Uber have entered a business partnership. Fins offense will now be using Uber to drive it into the end zone ..... Heat players Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson, both with recently signed mega-contracts, each have purchased huge mansions. Athletes used to be judged by their feet. Now it's their square feet .....  Canes lose two top defenders in a scandal related to luxury cars, and now a walk-on scout team QB gets arrested for cocaine. Jesus! Can't these college kids at least wait 'til they grow up to start making dumbass decisions!? .....  Sorry, Chris McCain, but when the Dolphins trade you for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, it means you weren't that good ..... Dwyane Wade, taking on the cause of Chicago gun violence, said he has "a bigger purpose than basketball." Bulls fans responded, "Yeah, but can you make basketball sort of the priority, please?" ..... Bleacher Report predicts UM men's basketball will finish 12th in the 15-team ACC. So the Canes quietly have canceled the upcoming season ..... Fantasy football: Where league members enjoy the camaraderie by all auto-selecting in an online draft ..... NFL stars James Harrison, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers were exonerated by the league of a PEDs accusation in an Al Jazeera article. I don't know who this Al guy is, but he'd better get his facts straight ..... Tone-deaf Penn State plans to honor Joe Paterno Sept. 17 on 50th anniversary of his first game -- almost as if he wasn't fired in disgrace in 2011 amid the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal ..... Philadelphia will host the 2017 NFL Draft. Excited fans there already are preparing by practicing vociferous booing of anticipated picks ..... Tim Tebow had his baseball tryout and wasn't that impressive, but looked lovable and God-fearing anyway ..... Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was released from jail after serving only three months for rape. The judge who gave that sentence should be jailed and serve longer ..... Joey Bosa finally ends holdout, signs with Chargers. How to Begin an NFL Career Badly 101 ..... Little League World Series continues rocked by over-age player scandals as two stars from winning team miss victory parade because their wives went into labor ..... World Series of Poker final table getting close, the annual popular gathering spot for egomaniacs wearing sunglasses indoors ..... Upcoming 23rd season of "Dancing With the Stars" will include Olympic clown Ryan Lochte, retired Lion Calvin Johnson, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe and --why the hell not! -- Vanilla Ice ..... R.I.P., Gene Wilder.

G1: HURRICANES 70, FLORIDA A&M 3 (FINAL): LAUNCH OF RICHT ERA ENJOYS A SOFT BUT IMPRESSIVE OPENING:  Final: What to say about a 70-3 game? Hugely impressive for Miami, with 4 TD passes by Kaaya and 3 UM 100-yard rushers for the first time since 1987. And equally embarrassing for poor FAMU. Click on Awesome Vs. Awful for my column from the game. ..... 4Q: Mercifully, humanely, the scoring seems to have abated. ..... 3Q: UM 70-3 in last seconds of third on Gus Edwards' 74Y run. ... UM 63-3 on Rosier's 19Y run. ... Backup QB Malik Rosier in for Kaaya with 4 minutes left in third. Smart move. Also, sportsmanlike. ... And now an INT by UM's Adrian Colbert. I'm now officially embarrassed for FAMU. ... Braxton Berrios 41Y punt-return TD makes it 56-3. My fingers are tired form typing all these Canes TDs. ... Well it's now 4 TGD passes for Kaaya and a 49-3 score. Time to sit Kaaya and some other starters now. ... Kaaya's 3rd TD pass is 15Y to a very fast Ahmmon Richards. ... Mark Walton 37Y scoring run has Miami up 35-3. Gorgeous dash with a high-step finish. ..... Half: It's a weird 28-3 because FAMU leads in time of possession by a 2-to-1 margin and only trails in total yards 214-54. And yet the game is non-competitive. Not for a minute has mistake-prone A&M given the impression it might bet back in it. ..... 2Q: It's 28-3 now with A&M on board with 31Y FG. ... Now 28-0 Canes on a Yearby 64Y scoring run. ... Canes 21-0 on Kaaya 16Y scoring pass to Chris Herndon. ..... 1Q: Canes miss 33Y FG attempt. ... UM up 14-0 on Joe Yearby 1Y TD set up by Canes block of Rattlers punt. ... UM 7-0 on Brad Kaaya to Marquez Williams 4Y pass after Corn Elder interception for UM. ... FAMU players wearing white uniforms with white numbers that cannot be seen. Perfect. ... Let's go! ..... Original post: Curtain up! Miami Hurricanes open their 91st season of college football this evening -- no wise guys, I was not there for the 1926 opener -- at 6 p.m. in a massively renovated, newly renamed home stadium that should impress those seeing it for first time. The four gigantic video screens alone are a mind- Miafamublower. The game also marks the heralded debut of new head coach Mark Richt, whose arrival helped generate a spike of 12,500 additional season tickets. Richt was hired to lead UM back to the promised land -- a promise broken or delayed ever since Miami won its last of five national championships in 2001. You notice I'm not talking about the Game 1 opponent? It doesn't figure as a compelling or even competitive game. For UM's sake, it better not be! Miami is one spot outside the Top 25 and should whisper into the polls with a win, coupled with upsets elsewhere, while Florida A&M is, well, pretty awful. Great marching band, lousy football players. The Division 1-AA Rattlers were 1-10 last year and have lost nine straight to Miami (see The List below) by an average score of 49-6. You read that right. "Expert" expectations for Miami are modest elsewhere; ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit guesses a 7-6 season, for example. I think the Canes will be better, possibly even a 10-win team. Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz preaches that his guys play "in a very violent manner." If they do and if quarterback Brad Kaaya is as great as I think he'll be, it could be strong season out of Coral Gables. By the way, Kaaya is legal now. Turns 21 today. Gift to self: Five touchdown passes? Should launch smoothly tonight with a predictable yet impressive rout that won't be much of a gauge, but should be a party. My pick: Hurricanes 52-6.

Other FBS Week 1 football:

Indiana 34, FIU 13: Panthers led 13-12 entering fourth quarter before collapsing late at home Thursday night. Three interceptions and bad run defense ushered in coach Ron Turner's fourth season at The Int'l.

FAU 38, Southern Illinois 30: Owls of Boca were 3-9 last year but have recruited well and are seen as on rise. I gave 'em a big shot at home-opening win and was right. QB Jason Driskel was great.

No. 25 Florida 24, Massachusetts 7: Gators were favored by 36 1/2 points in The Swamp but narrowly led entering fourth. Unimpressive debut for UF.

No. 4 Florida State 45, No. 11 Ole Miss 34: Plenty of experts see Jimbo Fisher leading his Noles into the four-team College Football Playoff, but FSU was only a modest 5-point favorite in this prime-timer in Orlando that closed Week 1. Noles didn't look the part in trailing by 22, but did with the monster comeback behind a freshman quarterback. 

Other state FBS games: South Florida crushed Towson State 56-20 and UCF pounded and shut out South Carolina State 38-0.

National collball Week 1 overview: No soft opening for the Big 4 teams out the gate. Prior to FSU's challenging opener Monday night, on Saturday, No. 3 Oklahoma was an upset loser to No. 15 Houston by 33-23. No. 1 Alabama crushed No. 20 Southern Cal 52-6, but No. 2 Clemson had all it could handle, winning 19-13 at unranked but upset-capable Auburn.

SopySOPY'S BACK!: Our weekly State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings return for another season, comparing the offensive output of quarterbacks, receivers and running backs from our seven state FBS schools: Miami, FSU, Florida, FIU, FAU, South Florida and UCF. Because 'Noles play Monday this week, look for the first SOPY Top 10 in the blog Tuesday morning.

THE LIST: CANES' MOST LOPSIDED FOOTBALL SERIES: The opponents Miami has most dominated in its history, minimum 10 all-time meetings:

Opponent                    UM record         Last met

Rutgers                       1.000 (11-0)     2003

Temple                        .929 (13-1)      2005

Florida A&M              .909 (10-1)         2016

Cincinnati                   .846 (11-2)       2015

Duke                           .846 (11-2)      Play Nov. 26; prior 2015

West Virginia               .842 (16-3)      2003

Boston College            .828 (24-5)       2012

East Carolina              .818 (9-2)         2003

Louisville                   .750 (9-3-1)      2014

Wake Forest               .727 (8-3)         2013

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

August 29, 2016

Our fantasy draft: Who picked best team? (Was it Greg's Lobos?) New poll. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes, Fins, Fish, tennis, Kaepernick, Marlins Park, Little League, Heat; plus Gase/Richt column & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 29. Dolphins and Uber announced a new partnership today. Go to my Facebook page to read team's press release in full. 2) R.I.P., Dick Assman, 82, the Canadian gas station owner propelled briefly to fame in 1995 when David Letterman, amused by his name, had Assman on as a recurring guest. 3) Yes, your dog's jaws are strong. An average 44-pound dog exerts a bite-pressure of 363 pounds. An average adult human's is 65 pounds. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins impress vs. Atlanta, Wade cousin killed, Fins talent vs. optimism, Canes heritage dissed, Marlins get Francoeur, Riley's Heat gloom confirmed, Rolling Stone joins our cause, your verdict on Dolfan optimism & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Twitter just told me, "Your Tweets earned 1,000,953 impressions over the last 28 days." Not exactly sure what that means, but I think it's my first time over 1 mill for a month. So, thank you, Twitter family!

Latest column: Hope for Dolphins, Canes starts with Gase, Richt: Miami's two flagship football teams have done a lot wrong most of this decade. What they've done right: Hire Adam Gase and Mark Richt. This is only the second time in 51 shared years the Fins and Canes both have begun a new season with a new head coach. Click on Gase, Richt and Hope for my latest column.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). The Real Olympic Ideal (it isn't gold medals). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (on new-name Hard Rock). Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars. The Weight Has Just Begun (inside the office and expectations of new Canes coach Mark Richt). A Chance for Football to Retake Miami (on Wade's departure from Heat).

OUR 10-TEAM FANTASY DRAFT: VOTE WHO YOU THINK PICKED THE BEST TEAM: Greg's Lobos had our last of three fantasy drafts on Sunday. The Lobos will be competing 1) in a random league Fantasyfbthat won us in an ESPN V Foundation fundraising auction; 2) in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos; and 3) in our own friends-n-family league. We had an earlier poll on our V Foundation team, and our LeBatard Show team is detailed at the end of this blogpost. Our friends-n-family league had its draft Sunday, and that's this poll. All of us gathered in person, not online. We did it old-school, with a giant draft board on the wall gradually populated with names. Afterward, of course, we stood around arguing who'd had the best draft, or worst. Whose teams looked strongest, or shakiest. Now I invite you to tell us. In this poll the teams are listed in draft order in case you wish to take that into consideration. We're a 10-team PPR league, and this was a standard snake draft. Our poll is based on each team's first four picks, because if we listed all 16 names for each team it'd be unwieldy. Peruse each team's top four and, based on that, vote which team you'd most want to have. Then check back often to monitor evolving results. Tomorrow we'll let you know who was behind the winning team and how your rated our Greg's Lobos.

 

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: College football is back! Canes suspend 2, open in 5 days: Week 1 locally features Hurricanes hosting Florida A&M on Saturday, two days after FIU debuts here vs. Indiana. UM on Saturday severed ties with two of its better defensive players in DE Al-Quadin Muhammad and LB Jermaine Grace after both were found guilty in a school probe of improper luxury-car rentals in violation of NCAA rules. This week signals official start of the Mark Richt era at UM. Hasn't played a gamed yet, but he's already won by keeping his program clean.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins beat Atlanta, prepare for stadium unveiling in preseason finale: After encouraging 17-6 win over Atlanta and roster cuts, Dolphins prepare for preseason finale on Thursday -- and public unveiling of refurbished, newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium. Place looks great. Will the team?

3. MARLINS: Playoff-chasing Fish add help, wrap homestand: Team is 1 1/2 games off playoff pace in a five-team wild-card scramble as it sets out today/Monday on seven-game road trip. Fish will be a part of the Tim Tebow audition after earlier trading for outfield help in Jeff Francoeur. Dear Jeff: Pretend like it's 2011, your last really good season.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Open, year's last major, set to begin: Starts today in New York with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams top seeds as usual. Tennis is predictable. Then again, defending women's champ Flavia Pennetta is a household name only in her own house.

5. MARLINS PARK: Stadium to host major auto race, World Baseball Classic: Good week for the Little Havana home of Marlins. First it's announced park will host Race of Champions on Jan. 21-22, annual event pitting Formula 1, NASCAR and IndyCar drivers. Then stadium landed first-round WBC games March 9-12 featuring U.S., Canada, Colombia and Dominican Republic. Now if only they'd add a few Marlins playoff games.

6. LITTLE LEAGUE: New York team wins annual youth World Series wraps up: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" The U.S. champion team from Endwell, N.Y. beat international champs from Seoul, South Korea on Sunday to make a U.S. team LLWS champions for first time since 2011. Was it fate? How could an American team from "End well" not have a happy ending?

7. OLYMPICS: Fallout from Rio controversy for Solo, Lochte: U.S. soccer suspended and cut ties with goalkeeper Hope Solo after she called victorious Sweden "cowards," and U.S. Swimming's Ryan Lochte saw several major sponsors including Speedo drop him over his gas-station episode in Rio. Good-looking athletes, but Ugly Americans.

8. HEAT: Riley's pronouncement of "bad summer" is affirmed: Pat Riley himself called it a "bad, bad summer" for the Heat, and evidence is rolling in. SI.com this week gave Miami a D+ in its offseason grades, and ESPN.com projected the Heat for a sub-.500 38.3 wins, 10th in the East. No LeBron, no D-Wade, no assurance yet on Bosh. No hope?

9. COLIN KAEPERNICK: QB protest by sitting for national anthem: The 49ers' embattled QB refused to stand for the U.S. national anthem to protest the country "oppression" of people of color. It's the latest chapter in his new autobiography, "How My Once-Promising Career Went Straight to Hell."

10. SOCCER: Group stage set for Champions League: Thirty-two teams in eight groups of four were drawn this week to begin play Sept. 13 in the Champions League to crown the king of European club football. Headlines went to Group C, where Manchester City was drawn with Barcelona -- meaning new Man City manager Pep Guardiola will face his longtime former club. You know you love you some international soccer when you drop a Pep Guardiola reference!

Missing the HB10 cut: Cousin of Dwyane Wade killed in Chicago shooting. "Enough is enough" Wade had said of gun violence. So sad. ..... Cricket! World cricket powers India and West Indies playing two weekend matches at Central Broward Stadium. Do cricket players have single  names like in soccer. Is the star named Jiminy? (Sorry) ..... Tony Romo got injured. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Florida Panthers dealt Dave Bolland's bloated contract and 2015 top draft pick Lawson Crouse to Arizona for second- and third-round picks. Preseason begins Sept. 27 to launch perhaps first season in club history in which winning Stanley Cup seems a legit possibility ...... Booker T. Washington beat St. Thomas Aquinas in duel of local prep football powerhouses. Circle the date. Aquinas losses come about as often as Halley's Comet ..... Only five schools in poll-era have won more national championships than Miami's five, but the Canes were ranked only 14th in an ESPN piece on college football royalty. Question: What do they mean by "fuzzy math"? ..... The Chicago White Sox, feeling the name U.S. Cellular Field wasn't awful enough, announced their stadium's new name will be Guaranteed Rate Field. No, seriously ..... Oakland Raiders have trademarked the name "Las Vegas Raiders." No, but they aren't leaving or anything! ..... Signs you may be a degenerate gambler: You bet big on Friday's Arizona Rattlers-Philadelphia Soul game in Arena Bowl 29 ..... Answer: KFC gives away tubes of "Extra Crispy Sunscreen" that smells like fried chicken. Question: What do you mean real life sometimes reads like something from The Onion? ..... Todd Marinovich was found wandering in somebody's backyard, naked and with drugs. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Congratulations, Chargers top draft pick Joey Bosa. All of San Diego hates you and you haven't even played a down yet ..... Farewell, daily fantasy sites Draft Kings and FanDuel. Sure will miss those nonstop TV ads ..... The Oakland A's traded pitcher Mike Rzepczynski, explaining, "We got tired of trying to spell and pronounce his name" ..... According to Brazilian media, 20-year-old Ingrid Oliveira and 17-year-old Giovanna Pedroso have ended their Olympic diving partnership after Oliveira kicked the teen from the room they shared at the Olympic Village in Rio so she could enjoy a night of sex with Brazilian canoeist Pedro Gonçalves. Um, is that a canoe, or are you just happy to see me?

INTRODUCING GREG'S LOBOS II, THE LEBATARD SHOW TEAM: We introduced you previously to the 2016 Greg's Lobos team that will be competing in the league that donated the most money Lobosto ESPN's V Foundation to have me as a member. Now I'd like you to meet the Greg's Lobos squad that will be competing in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos this season, a PPR league. I'd imagine this is the team we'll be referencing most on the air. Mea culpa: We were last of 14 teams in the snake-draft order. Our players, by round: 1st--RB Devonta Freeman (reigning MVL; welcome back D-Free); 2nd--WR Allen Robinson; 3rd--QB Drew Brees; 4th--WR Randall Cobb; 5th--TE Delanie Walker; 6th--RB Melvin Gordon; 7th--WR Willie Snead; 8th--RB Theo Riddick; 9th--RB Tevin Coleman; 10th--Seahawks D/ST; 11th--WR Terrance Williams; 12th--TE Clive Walford; 13th--PK Chandler Catanzaro; and 14th--QB Teddy Bridgewater. Last season's 10-team league has grown to 14 teams with one dropout (Papi) and five expansion teams. Returning teams are Dan, Stugotz and myself along with Mike, Roy, Chris, Charlie, Guillermo and Allyson. The five newbies are Amin Elhassan, Randy Scott, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre and (are you ready) WWE pro wrestler Tyler Breeze.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

July 11, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring Wade's goodbye, Fish at All-Star break, Wimbledon, Vive la Portugal?, Fins stadium, UFC 200, British Open, ESPYs; plus your verdicts on Wade statue, new face of Miami sports & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade-leaving aftershocks including build-a-statue and who's-now-face-of-Miami-sports polls, your verdict of booing Wade, LeBatard Show podcast dominance & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

MY DWYANE WADE COMMEMORATIVE SPECIAL-SECTION COLUMN: Click on Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure for Sunday''s farewell-Dwyane column.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: The Ending Was Ugly But the Run Was Sublime, on the stunning departure of Dwyane Wade. Heat Must Kiss-and-Make Up With Wade Now, warning of the imperative to sign Wade once the Durant dream was over. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Stunner! Wade leaves Heat for Chicago Bulls: After 13 seasons and three championships, Dwyane Wade is gone. Just like that. Gone in free agency to his hometown Chicago Bulls while his adopted city reels over the loss. He was D-Wade. This was Wade County. It still doesn't seem real. This would be numbers one through eight in our Hot Button, or maybe the whole Top 10, based on the proportional impact in our market. Across the NBA, only Kevin Durant choosing Golden State was a bigger free-agency story than Wade leaving Miami. Farewell, Dwyane. The ending may have been ugly, but the run was sublime. Thank you.

2. MARLINS: Four Fish to All-Star Game, Stanton to Derby at midsummer break: Marlins wrapped up first half of season Sunday strong in playoff contention after a third straight win, and send four players (Jose Fernandez, Marcell Ozuna, A.J. Ramos, Fernando Rodney) to Tuesday's All-Star Game in San Diego. And Giancarlo Stanton will be in tonight's/Monday's Home Run Derby. Nice.

3. TENNIS: Wimbledon fortnight ends with perfect championship weekend: Wimbledon wrapped up Sunday with Brit Andy Murray winning the men's title after Serena Williams reigned with a record-tying 22nd major win. The perfect weekend for Wimbledon. 

4SOCCER: Host France falls to Portugal in Euro '16 finale: It was Portugal upsetting host 'France 1-0 in overtime Sunday afternoon in the Euro '16 championship match. After all the host nation had been through, including the Paris terrorist attacks, unless you were living in downtown Lisbon, you were probably hoping, "Vive la France!"

5. DOLPHINS: Club refutes speculation on construction delays: Crazy reports and rumors pinballing around suggested that Dolphin stadium renovation delays might force the Fins to play early-season home games Orlando. Wrong! Or so said the team, claiming all construction including the new canopy would be done by Sept. 1. Hmm. We'll see.

6. MMA: Depleted UFC 200 marks milestone for sport: UFC 200 went on as scheduled in Las Vegas Saturday despite the doping-related absence of Jon "Bones" Jones after the earlier withdrawal of Conor McGregor. Disappointed pay-per-viewers buyers, there's probably a class-action suit near you.

7. GOLF: Season's third major, British Open, begins this week: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are bunched as favorites to win the 145th British Open commencing Thursday at Scotland's Royal Troon. Bonus fact: A "troon," according urbandictionary.com, is "a girl that looks like she used to be a man." Hey, don't blame me. I'm just the messenger.

8. ESPN: Network's ESPY Awards air this week: The ESPYs air on Wednesday night. Because ESPN doesn't get enough attention. And because there are not nearly enough awards shows.

9. OLYMPICS: Embattled Rio Games now less than month away: With the Aug. 5 Opening ceremony fast approaching, the Rio Olympics look to be in great shape other than the minor matters of the Zika virus, unfinished facilities, bacteria-riddled water, athlete withdrawals, doping suspensions, body parts washing ashore and local police saying they cannot protect visitors from rampant crime.

10. NBA: Summer league pivots from Orlando to Vegas: The Heat bounced to a 3-0 start in NBA summer league play, which features mostly rookies and undrafted free agents. So Miami missed out on Kevin Durant and lost Dwyane Wade, but otherwise -- a good week!

Missing the HB10 cut: Chris Bosh "broke his silence" on Bill Simmons' new show but was not asked -- not once -- about his health. It'd be like having Trump as a guest and the presidential race is never discussed. You can't make this s--- up, folks ..... Panthers GM Tom Rowe and star defenseman Aaron Ekblad were touting Cats' Stanley Cup chances at a press conference. Love the confidence but, for now, less talking, more doing, please ..... Miami super-agent Drew Rosenhaus helped saved the life of an accident victim by offering roadside assistance. No word yet whether Rosenhaus waived his 5 percent fee ..... Seven MLS teams and only the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of second-tier NASL are alive in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. Strikers play at Chicago Fire July 20 ..... We ride FIU and AD Pete Garcia pretty hard, so, in fairness, today we note that FIU's athletic department is having its best academic year on record including a highest-ever overall grade point average of 3.1. So there! ..... You know the Dolphins are in deep offseason hibernation when I get a press-release from the club touting an upcoming third annual "Mom's Clinic," evidently geared to females who are football fans but requiring a tutorial ..... Break the ice at a party with this one: "Did you know it is 133 days until the NASCAR season finale at Homestead?!" You're welcome ..... The Tour de France continues, despite a spate of bicycle tires being punctured by strewn steroid needles ..... Somebody check to make sure Johnny Manziel is OK. It's been almost a week since he last was embroiled in an embarrassing calamity.

Poll result: It's "yes" on a Dwyane Wade statue: We asked if the Miami Heat should erect a statue of departed star Wade in front of the arena, and it was 64.1 percent yes, 29.8% no and 6.1% undecided.

GsPoll result: Post-Wade, Marlins' Stanton is face of South Florida pro sports: We asked what current athlete is now the face of South Florida pro sports, and Giancarlo Stanton (pictured) led with 28.2 percent, followed by his Marlins teammate Jose Fernandez with 23.3% and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill with 16.3%. Chris Bosh (6.7%) will have to earn back his status, while Hassan Whiteside (5.9%) must prove himself worthy. Interestingly, 14.1% voted "someone else" not listed in the poll. If you were thinking Justise Winslow or Jarvis Landry, sorry, they're not there yet.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote